Monday, August 07, 2006

Back to normality...whatever that is.

Hi again. I'm back at work today. The usual shit when you've been off for two weeks - hundreds of emails, most of which are deleted immediately. Backlog, do this, do that, chase him, find her, release this, sign off on that, submit these reports....

Fuck off. I hate this. I'd much rather be at home.

Jack's doing really well. He has already slept through the night twice - not bad for a two-week old. He likes being bounced, something Erin used to hate, and he has a serious pair of lungs on him when he decides he's hungry. Those cute kitten-like mews are no more. Now when he wants to eat he will let you know about it.

I was Linzi's rock the first week. I did everything, and I mean everything. I was super-husband. I washed, cooked, cleaned, sterilised, washed, fed, burped (and not just myself - Jack too), played charming host for visitors, did I mention washed, kept the house looking great, and generally did everything I could to make her life as stress-free as possible. She is getting on well and is on the road to being fully recovered - it's incredible how quickly she's getting on this time around. She's been really lucky. We're light-heartedly arguing at the moment because I've been toying with the idea of getting the snip, but she is adamant that I do not. She says that (a) we might want more kids one day, and (b) she may be killed in a horrific accident and my next (nubile, unbelievably sexy) wife will probably want some of my supersperm. Both valid points, though you'd probably agree that (b) is slightly morbid. The dying bit, not the nubile, unbelievably sexy bit. To be honest I think I'm just winding her up by saying it - at 27 I'm probably a bit young to take the fairly drastic step of plugging the pipes for good.

That said, I don't know if I want any more children either. We've been blessed with two perfect angels, and we've lost one other (who would've been due in May this year). There's a symmetry now - a boy and a girl. Both healthy and beautiful and bright. It might sound incredibly cynical, but I don't want to push my luck.

So, the second week...

Linzi's sister Nancy was up, and her family were around at ours on a daily basis, so my role as house-husband extraordinaire was slowly but inexorably relinquished to the females, who insisted on taking over most of the duties I'd been excelling at in the previous week. That was fine with me, because I probably would've run out of steam anyway, but I looked really good while it lasted.

As a result of my services no longer being in such demand, I began to see what else I could do. I like to be needed, you see. I like to be considered useful, vital, someone that can be depended on, that you can't do without, and so I get off on doing things for other people. Believe me, it's entirely selfish, because it makes me feel good, but it benefits other people as well, so I guess it's a good thing. Mostly.

My mind wandered, settling on something that had pissed me off since we moved into the house. The utility room. This is a very useful room just off the kitchen that contains washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, fridge, and some cupboard space. Nothing exciting, except that the electrics in the room were clearly a home-made job and were extremely dangerous, to say the least. Without making this sound too boring, when you've got appliances which are heavy on the juice, such as washing machine and tumble dryer, it's best if they are given a dedicated ring (circuit) to work from. Too many additional appliances plugged into one ring means that the trip switch would keep knocking off if, say, the washer, dryer, and toaster were all turned on at once - which is a likely event in my house.

Long story short - I decided to run two separate rings in the utility room - a dedicated one for the washer, dryer and fridge, and another one for all the other dinky little appliances that clutter up our cupboards and worktops.

This took me two whole days. I had to pull up floorboards, and fish wires under the floor half-way across the house to where the box sits. Needless to say, this caused significant dirt and disruption in my otherwise pristine home. Dirt and disruption + two young children = chaos. All I kept thinking was, it's best I do this now, while I'm off, rather than leaving it and trying to do a little bit over the course of 4 or 5 weekends. I convinced myself of this, and managed to convince Linzi too. I had to, or I would've been killed.

So I got the below-floor electrics and plumbing (because I was moving the washing machine) done in the first two days. On the third day I had to fit all the sockets, which involved wraggling out channels in brick walls...if you've never done this, trust me, it's one of the most annoying jobs you'll have to do when working on a house. It creates so much dust and need two showers to get it out of your hair. Then, once you've wired the sockets up, you're left with the unenviable task of plastering over the mess. Plastering, if you don't do it regularly, is quite difficult to do well. I do it about once every two years, ie I am shit at it. But at least it was done...

On Friday, I took Linzi to KFC (money's tight, folks - if I had my way I'd treat my girl to more than the Colonel's finest, but alas, needs must) and we went to see Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest. We got home around midnight. I then had to drop her sister home, and at 1am, I started painting. Got to bed at 4am. Finished the second coat on Saturday afternoon, and then relaid the floor...the end was in sight!

To finish the room off, I decided to box in the fridge, the washing machine and the dryer. Picture the fridge on the left, and the dryer sitting on top of the washer, enclosed in an attractive, gloss-white, MDF frame. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it... ;-)

To get that quality finish, I took my router and rounded all the edges of the MDF, so that any accident prone kiddies who happen to fall against it won't crack their heads, it looks much nicer. More of a finished job. But it takes about 6 hours.

God I am really rambling about this stupid utility room, eh? This just demonstrates how much this bastard room has taken over my life since last Wednesday. I must sincerely apologise for what is turning into an abysmally bland post - I blame my lack of sleep and general apathy at being back at work for this.

How about I just cut to Sunday night and say that by 9pm, I still wasn't finished. I stopped to spend some time with my poor neglected son before I went back to work.

This evening I have to assemble the frame and bolt it to the wall, then paint it. And then the beshitted job will be finished, and Linzi can have her room back.

Thank God.

You'd think with a newborn son and a toddler daughter, I'd have more family-oriented stories from the last two weeks. Trust me, they are's just that my life became so dominated by the Room of Doom that I'm finding it hard to type about anything else.

There was bowling, though. And dinners - lots of jovial, meaty, fun-filled dinners with the whole family (well, Linzi's side - my family hasn't made it over yet, but my dad's coming tomorrow, and my sister on Wednesday). I've put on weight again - need to get back to the gym. There was Erin, tentatively, sweetly getting to grips with Jack. She is such a wee darling - she's been so good about it, even though it must be incredibly confusing for her. I think Linzi did a great job at preparing her for a new baby over the last few months.

There was us bonding as a wee family, and there was even some romance. To build Linzi up, I've started snogging her like we were teenagers. As often as possible, just kissing, nothing further. I'll do this for as long as it takes - all that built-up sexual energy will mean when we do start doing it again, it won't take much work to, ahem, you know. Ladies love the foreplay. Well, this is foreplay on a grand scale, let me tell you.

And, for now, I'll just keep wanking.



eternity blathered this crap:

Hi Kav, Congrats ! your child is lovely. I would like to invite you to visit

Kav blathered this crap:

Thanks all the same eternity, but I am going to say no.

Beckie R blathered this crap:

Great to know that you all are coping well. I'd love to see pics of Erin with Jack. I imagine she's being quite cute about him. Hope she's doing ok with sharing Mom and Dad.

Michael blathered this crap:

Sounds like a good couple of weeks rounded out by pure hell. Why do people in this part of the world obsess over DIY'ing everything!?

Anyhoo... good to see you posting again. Now go catch up on everyone elses blogs!

Kav blathered this crap:

beckie: I'll try to get some up as soon as I can, but my monitor is knackered at home at the moment!

michael: surprisingly, I actually enjoy doing work on the house - I find it really satisfying. I just like to complain, that's all. ;-)

Michael blathered this crap:

I like talking about doing stuff around the house.. simple things like washing the dishes get done regularly but more complicated endeavours like hanging photos are the stuff of domestic mythology. Perhaps you can enlighten me about hanging photos on plastered walls? :) I have no clue.

Kav blathered this crap:

It depends on whether you are talking about plastered walls or plasterboard just has a skim coat of plaster on it, a facade covering a concrete or brick wall (aka solid walls), and the other is just a hollow wooden frame with plasterboard nailed to it (sometimes filled with insulation, called a hollow wall).

If you don't know, rap on the wall with your knuckles - strangely, hollow walls sound hollow.

If the photo frames are small and light, you can get away with just hammering some small nails/tacks into the plaster - provided it isn't ancient and crumbling, the plaster alone can bear the weight of a light frame. Anything more substantial, though, and you will need some tools, and do it like this:

For brick walls, you need a decent anchor for your pics, so get a fairly heavy-duty masonry drill (and make sure you use a masonry drill-bit, too, or you won't get anywhere). I suggest borrowing one off kindly Uncle Jim, because these things can set you back £200. For hanging pictures, a 5.5mm drill bit (most common size used in general DIY) and some red Rawlplugs (these fit 5.5mm holes) will suffice.

So, mark our where you want the pic to hang, then drill your hole (making sure the hammer action on your drill is turned on - makes a hell of a racket but cuts holes in bricks without any hassle....usually). Once you've drilled your hole, blow out the dust, tap in a Rawlplug, then screw a 1.5 inch number 6/8 screw into the plug, leaving the tip out to hang the frame on. This is heavy-duty enough to hold alot of frames, but if you need two supports for the pic, make sure you drill them in line with each other or it will hang squinty.

In fact, if you've got alot of pictures to hang, it's useful to get a decent spirit level (at least 2 feet long) so that you can pencil a perfectly straight line along your wall to make sure all those pictures look even. Just paint over the pencil line once you've put in all your plugs/screws.

It's slightly easier for plasterboard, and you have two options here. The first thing you can do is try to find a stud in the plasterboard wall - essentially, the wall is made up of a series of vertical wooden battens, usually separated by 16-18" - the plasterboard is nailed to this frame, and hey presto, you've got a wall. So, if you tap your board with the end of a screwdriver, you will find that every 16" or so, you get a slight sharper sound - that's your stud. You can just drive a wood screw right through the plaster and into this stud, and that gives you a really solid fixing, just like on a solid wall.

If you're not too sure where the studs are, or are afraid you might just end up with loads of test holes everywhere, the safer (but costlier) option is to purchase some heavy-duty plasterboard plugs from your friendly neighbourhood hardware store. With these, you drill a pilot hole with a HSS drill-bit (or sometimes I just punch a hole in the plasterboard using an awl, but using a drill is neater), usually about 8mm, then squeeze the plug flat and push it into the hole. Once it's inside, it opens up like an umbrella, then, as you tighten the screw in it, it pulls and tightens up against the inside of the plasterboard, giving you a decent fixing for your frame. You can get these plugs in different gauges, from light duty through to extremely heavy-duty metal ones, but a middle of the road set should do you for hanging pictures. They'll set you back about £6-8 for a pack of 10-20.

ONE THING! BE VERY CAREFUL about where your electric cables, water and/or gas pipes run in the house. You don't want a DIY disaster on your hands. It's generally easier than you'd think to figure out where pipes and cables run, but if you want to be really sure, you can buy a detector for £10-12 which can sense where pipes/cables/studs are.

See? This is how much I enjoy DIY. I spent my fucking lunch break typing this...

Michael blathered this crap:

I owe you one. One what, I have no idea... but when I get to work I'm going to print this out and purchase some 'stuff' to hang pictures with. :) Thanks!
(solid walls btw)